The Bulletproof Musician – by Noa Kageyama, Ph.D.
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A few years ago, thinking it wouldn’t hurt to get away from the computer now and again and be a little more active, I accompanied my son to his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu class, and signed up for some classes myself. Needless to say, rolling around on the ground, getting crushed and choked by a bunch of bigger, stronger, faster guys (and gals), many of whom were half my age, was totally out of my comfort zone. So I spent the first year or so feeling totally incompetent, very insecure, and wondering why I was doing this to myself…
The experience was (and continues to be) very humbling, and made me much more empathetic to the experience of adult learners in music as well. Whether coming back to an instrument after decades away, or starting a new instrument in one’s 30’s, 50’s, or even 70’s, it can be tempting to wonder if it’s truly possible for an old dog to learn new tricks.
I do think it is possible, of course, with the right sort of practice and instruction (even if we may not pick up these new tricks quite as quickly as we once did…).
But to get some more perspective on this, I thought it might be interesting to chat with someone whose efforts to hone their craft really only began in adulthood, rather than in childhood.
And as I think you’ll see in a moment, the lessons are pretty applicable to us all, regardless of age or level of experience. So whether you’re an adult learner looking to devote more time to music as you near retirement, or a high school student looking at auditioning for college this year, I hope you’ll take away some ideas that you can use to make your practice this week a little more engaging, enjoyable, and effective.